The Words We Use to Cover Criminal Justice, Jails and Prisons

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April 21, 2021

The Words We Use to Cover Criminal Justice, Jails and Prisons

This one-hour webinar will challenge you to think more critically about the language you use to describe incarcerated people in your reporting.

Originally broadcast on April 21, 2021. The replay is available on demand when you enroll.

Overview

  • The replay is available on demand. The webinar was originally broadcast on April 21, 2021.
  • Hear experts from The Marshall Project review their findings after examining their own reporting.
  • Add more context and nuance to your own reporting on justice.
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Learning Outcomes

Webinar participants will:

  • Examine the impact of common labels such as “felon” and “inmate.”
  • Explore alternatives that are more specific and less harmful.
  • Have the opportunity to ask questions about covering topics in their community.
Sale!

$0.00

Overview

  • The replay is available on demand. The webinar was originally broadcast on April 21, 2021.
  • Hear experts from The Marshall Project review their findings after examining their own reporting.
  • Add more context and nuance to your own reporting on justice.

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In this webinar, you will examine the language that journalists use while covering justice, jails and prisons. The discussion will be led by ethics experts at the Poynter Institute and feature panelists from The Marshall Project, a leader in reporting on prisons, jails and justice reform. The Marshall Project recently reviewed its own policies about how incarcerated people are described. Their findings are published in a series called “The Language Project.”

You will hear why The Marshall Project is choosing to mostly eliminate stigmatizing labels like “inmate,” “convict” and “felon” from their coverage, and is choosing more specific language such as “incarcerated person” or “in prison, awaiting trial” instead.

This change may attract critics and cynics who point out that the alternatives require more words, or may appear to be “accommodating” to people who are accused of or convicted of crimes. And sometimes people serving time in prison themselves may use the very words that The Marshall Project suggests you reconsider. We will explore all of that, and more.

The Marshall Project — which has been a leading voice in journalism covering COVID-19 behind bars, as well as policing, bail reform, the death penalty and many more issues relating to mass incarceration — will explain how they researched the language they use in their reporting.

This seminar will help reporters, editors and newsrooms think more deeply about language choice when they engage in the critically important topics of justice reform, jails and prisons.

Questions?

If you need assistance, email us at info@poynter.org.

This webinar took place Wednesday, April 21, 2021, from noon to 1 p.m. Eastern time.

During the first part of the webinar, Poynter facilitated a robust conversation with the panelists. At the end, audience members had an opportunity to get their questions answered.

Who should enroll

This webinar is designed for journalists working in any medium in any role (reporters, photojournalists, editors, assignment editors, producers, managers, writers, copy editors, designers). Journalism students and educators will also benefit.

Cost

Tuition for this one-hour webinar is covered by a generous grant from The MacArthur Foundation.

Instructors

Facilitators

  • Kelly McBride
    Senior Vice President and Chair of Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership
    Kelly McBride is a writer, teacher and one of the country’s leading voices when it comes to media ethics. She has been on the faculty...
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  • Al Tompkins, Senior Faculty, Broadcast and Online
    Al Tompkins
    Senior Faculty, Broadcast and Online
    Al Tompkins is The Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcasting and online. He has taught thousands of journalists, journalism students and educators in newsrooms around...
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Presenters

  • Lawrence Bartley
    Director, "News Inside" at The Marshall Project
    Lawrence Bartley is the director of “News Inside,” the print publication of The Marshall Project which is distributed in hundreds of prisons and jails throughout...
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  • Dr. Alexandra Cox
    Senior Lecturer, University of Essex
    Dr. Alexandra Cox is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Essex’s Department of Sociology. She received her Ph.D. in Criminology from the University of...
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  • Akiba Solomon
    Senior Editor, The Marshall Project
    Akiba Solomon is a senior editor at The Marshall Project and oversees “The Language Project.” She is an NABJ award-winning journalist from West Philadelphia and...
    Read More

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